Control is the action of receiving the ball, usually from your pass, although it could also be a way of intercepting your opponents pass or shot. There are key areas of the body with which you are taught to control the ball. These are your feet, your thigh and your chest. Controlling the ball will often be referred to as trapping the ball or “first touch”. It is important to practice receiving the ball from different directions and from different heights and angles.
Your “first touch” is often the most important. How you first touch/control the ball when it comes to you, will determine what your next move will be. Which is why practicing your control is so important.
Have a look at the video below and see the many different ways the professionals control the ball, before the “next step”.
Trapping the football with your feet requires a few key elements. The most important thing when receiving a ball is to be ready. The ball could take a bobble, could have a spin on it, or could be intercepted before it gets to you.
So the first thing is to always be on your toes, so you are prepared to make adjustments to your own body shape to receive the ball.
Your control or first touch is your most important. If your first controlling touch puts the ball directly in the path of your opponent, they are going to take it from you. It helps to be aware of where your marker is (your closest opponent) and try to make your first touch in a direction away from your opponent or in the way you want to go. So practice controlling the ball so that it stops a little in front of you centre, left or right.
Once you have the confidence to receive the ball, you can practice receiving and turning in one movement, here is a great example of a practice you can do.
A big point that is emphasised by the Australian FA coaching staff is the process of receiving the ball facing forwards (towards the goal you are attacking) and with the furthest foot from the pass, trying to centre the ball (keeping it between your feet and so shielded from both directions and allowing you to move the ball in either direction).
This requires you to readjust your body as the ball is travelling towards you. If you are being passed to from the right, then you should expect to receive the ball on your left foot. This allows you to see your options to move the ball forward.
You could say, you would receive the ball with the outside of your right foot and still be facing forward. However, it limits your options should you get closed down quickly. If the ball is controlled on the outside of your right foot, then the only way you can move that ball quickly, is to the right. (Everything is opposite if receiving the ball from the left.)
Have a look at the pro’s and watch how (more often than not) you use your furthest foot from the ball to receive your passes. If they are facing their own goal, then they are usually playing the way they are facing.
To receive the ball coming out of the air, you could control it using your foot, thigh or chest. The video to the left gives you some nice pointers and a great example of how to do this.
The key points to this is getting yourself behind the ball, bringing your thigh up to receive the ball and dropping your thigh as the ball makes contact to make it drop in front of you.
If the ball comes to you from a much higher trajectory you may have to take control of it with your chest.
The principles of controlling the ball with your chest are the same as controlling it with your thigh.
Getting yourself behind the flight of the ball, presenting the area of your chest to receive the ball, to the ball and then softening the impact by changing your body shape.
Have a look how a real pro does it in the video on the right.
As you read in the passing and shooting section, it is important to be able to successfully receive the ball, as to do anything with the ball you first need to be in possession of it.
You will find that practicing JUGGLING will help your confidence with this technique.
Here are some more examples: